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Fri, 12.04.1942

The Burma Road Project begins

*The Burma Road was construction beginning is celebrated on this date in 1942.  This was a three-year WW II military excavation project. 

Black soldiers who worked to re-open the Burma Road were the single largest group of Blacks in World War II-era China. The Road ran through the Himalayan Mountains and linked India and China. Six Black battalions, who comprised 60 percent of the U.S. soldiers working on this project, labored side-by-side with Indian, Burmese, and Chinese laborers to construct the 271-mile Ledo Road which connected to the Burma Road.  

The Ledo Road was finished in January 1945 and the first trucks from India reached Yunnan, China on January 28, 1945.  The Road’s importance was diminished because World War II ended in August. Also, at the time the soldiers received no recognition in the United States for their labor in Asia.  Overall, 1,133 American soldiers died, many of them from equipment accidents, malaria, typhus, or combat. 

The Ledo Road was later described as a “wartime engineering miracle.” Relations between Chinese and Black soldiers were reportedly good during work on the Ledo Road and later in China immediately after the war. 

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String-chewing bass players, Plucking rolled balls of sound From the jazz scented night Feeding hungry beat seekers Finger shaped heartbeats, Driving ivory nails Into their greedy eyes. Smoke crystals, from the nostrils Of released jazz demons, Crash from... MINGUS by Bob Kaufman.
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